Each of our shoes that we’ve taken our own steps in tells a unique story about our personal experience at Academy
May 30, 2017
Good evening. I would like to welcome Mr. Raimo, Mrs. Nitchals, Mrs. Krukar, faculty, staff, family, and friends to the graduation ceremony of the Class of 2017. We are thrilled you are with us as we take our final steps with Academy.
When I sat down to write this, I was stuck wondering what in the world I could use to sum up my four years at Academy, the place that has made me into the person I am today. Then, I realized nothing better sums up my four years here than the very things that have been with me from the start: my shoes. Most girls in our class know exactly what I’m talking about because they have kept their shoes all four years, going as far as duct taping the entire shoe in order to keep it together in our final year. Personally, I have not seen the soles of my shoes since beginning of Junior year and can successfully detach the entire heel from what remains of my left penny-loafer. But, I could never bring myself to get new ones and I can’t bring myself to throw them away now because they have been with me through all my memories of this school. These shoes were there when I roamed the halls on my first day practically in tears because I somehow got into the middle school building and couldn’t find my way out. They took me through two volleyball practices where I forgot my shoes that day and even walked me up on stage during our sophomore year honor ceremony only to realize that I was in fact not the Kendall that had been called. But, most importantly, these shoes took me through what have been the best four years of my life.
For a long time now, Academy has been our identity. Our security. It has been a place where we feel comfortable to take off our shoes at the moment we reach our desk or refuse to brush our hair because we’re all girls here. I can count on one hand how many times I ever wore makeup to school. I actually think it was only when we had class pictures. We have gotten used to the sight of Bayshore every morning and the familiar feel of throwing on our uniform right after getting out of bed. As much as we may have complained about the restricted motion of the skirt or the stiff feel of our old mass shirts, we all have secretly loved these because it has allowed us to not get shown up by the Maria Cacciatore’s of the world who always seem to have their outfit perfectly put together.
Academy has been a constant for us through our rough years with braces or that one haircut we just thought was the best thing on earth at the time. It has unified us from the moment we all sang “Breaking Free” at our freshman retreat. When I think of Academy, I think of the people who created a culture of independence and empowerment in this all girls environment. It has given every one of us a sense of pride in who we are, and allowed us to embrace every fiber of our being.
Not only have our shoes walked us through all of our experiences throughout Academy, but they also brought us into the presence of teachers who deserve all the thank you’s in the world. To all of our teachers over the past 4 years, thank you for giving us an education that goes further than just our textbooks. Your example of confidence and composure while dealing with our newest obsession, including Harambe, Pinky, and Cecil, off-pitched singing, and recent senioritis is something that will stay with all of us as we head into the world. Thank you for all the life lessons we have acquired over our time here, including but not limited to, Mrs. Chase’s reminder that this is not a democracy or her instruction to always keep a little sparkle in our lives, it’s a chase-ocracy, Mrs. Kearney’s advice never to invade Russia in the winter in the off chance that one of us becomes a dictator, Ms. Mikos’s advice to find another way originally meant for math problems but now applied to all aspects of life, and Mrs. Nazaretian’s suggestion that nothing good happens after 5 o’clock. We all will really miss everything you have to offer but we won’t be too far away, because as soon as we get home from this, I promise you we will be friending you on all social media platforms possible in the hopes that you accept our request.
Also, to my parents and all the parents here tonight, thank you for everything you do for us. I know personally I have made my mom drive up countless of times to school to drop off money or sign some form that I’ve had for weeks but just the day it was due got around to finding it in the bottom of my backpack. Without your unfailing love and support, we would never have made it this far and gotten the chance to attend Academy. I know we do not say it enough, but we love you and honestly cannot imagine what life will be like without seeing you every day. And, to my brothers and all the siblings in the room, we really appreciate everything you have done for us, from having our backs against anyone who treats us wrong to letting us have that last scoop of ice cream at the dinner table. As much as we may not like to admit, you will really be missed next year.
Finally, to my fellow graduates, all 110 of us, I am so proud of us. We are the most spirited group of people I have ever met, even though a lot of the noise can be credited to Ashley, it still counts. We completely mastered the cooperative-competitive attitude about academics most schools wish for, where we all pushed each other to do our best through our shared study guides and group study sessions, not at the expense of the person sitting next to us. I honestly do not know who I will be able to play a 110 person bracket of March Madness with even though 95% of us have no idea what is going on or be around a group of people where eating 5 cookies in a matter of 10 minutes is socially acceptable. I will miss so much letting off our steam from the stressful school day in the senior lounge then going home that day and watching every second of it on Camille’s snapchat story. I do not know another school where, as Megan Przedpelski beautifully put it, we can recognize every person in our class not by their voice or their hair, but by their sneeze.
As we prepare to step out of this comfort zone, I would love to say something inspirational about the future, something that leaves everyone with confidence that all of us know exactly what we are doing or where we are going but the truth is, I’m absolutely terrified. The one thing that calms me as I think about going into the ‘real world’ is that I can guarantee that I could go to any one of my classmates here today at any point in my life and would be there for me, no matter if I had one conversation with them over the past four years or never stopped talking to them.
No matter where we are in 10 or even 50 years, we will all look back at this time, maybe even take a look at our shoes that I know I am keeping, and want our high school back. This is the last time we will all be together – look around at each other – take a picture in your mind because I promise you, we have something really special here. So, savor every second of these final moments. I believe it will give us strength as we go into the world because this all girls high school experience is unique and empowering. Each of our shoes that we’ve taken our own steps in tells a unique story about our personal experience at Academy, but our one shared ground is this school that led us all to wear penny loafers in the first place. Culturally, new shoes are supposed to be envied, valuable, and exciting, we all realize the worth of ones filled with memories and successes. Here we have a tradition of spray painting our shoes gold after we finish school and would like to think its because we recognize that the value they hold after these four years is far greater than the value of any new shoes we can ever buy.
I am blessed to be a part of a pretty amazing group of girls. So, here’s to the Class of 2017. In my personal opinion, the best class to ever walk the halls of Academy.